Nick Bullock: Calling a spade a spade and which way I'm voting in the BMC AGM

Posted by Sarah Stirling on 08/04/2018
Nick Bullock. Photo: Graham Desroy

Mountaineer and author Nick Bullock explains why he’s helping to build a better BMC by voting for our new constitution.

Recently, Sarah Stirling, BMC Summit's Assistant Ed, asked me if I'd be interested writing a piece about Option A, in the upcoming vote about the future direction of the BMC. To her credit, she added, “If indeed you are voting option A.” This final comment was astute, because, not only do I have a personal fear of climbing being a part of the Olympics, I also have a distrust of big business and consumerism, and to cap it all, I suppose I do have grey in my whiskers making me a bit of an old fart.

Climbing for me has always been about personal challenge, a competitive thing, but only through competing with myself. I have always had a fear that once climbing becomes embroiled inside the large commercial hands of competition, possibly governed by people who do not understand climbing, or at least, what climbing is for me, the thing I love will change beyond recognition.

Selfishly, my fear of this scenario extends to what knock-on effects this competitive element will have on my own experience within my activity, mainly in the form of new regulations. My fear is adventure climbing may become something similar to the pariah that smoking tobacco is now, (rightly) seen to be. This is obviously a big exaggeration but hopefully you get my drift?   

I grew up in the time when punk rock swept away some of the old crusties within the music industry; it delivered a swift kick below the belt to conformism, and I would like to think this philosophy, this trouble-maker still lingers somewhere deep inside what I have already admitted to being, a bit of an old fart. There is definitely a part of me that wants to say, stuff your structure and business and rules and regulations and your voting, because I am an anarchist, a free spirit, but I take and listen to the words from another old anarchist John Lydon:

“Listen, you know this: If there's not a rebellious youth culture, there's no culture at all. It's absolutely essential. It is the future. This is what we're supposed to do as a species, is advance ideas.”

And to be honest, I’m not an anarchist or a trouble-maker or a free spirit, and as I have become older, I have witnessed what diversity within all things gives, diversity in my opinion is a good thing – something to be embraced, even if there are aspects that you yourself do not partake or even see the worth.

Climbing is now so diverse and this is a good thing – if it had not moved on from posh blokes with alpenstocks, I would not be involved and neither would many of the people that call themselves climbers today.

I personally think the odd shake up is good and an occasional shot across the bows reinvigorates but there comes a time when that shot turns to explosion and the fallout is destructive. Personally, I think the people who have worked, and still work at the BMC, have done a great job in times of massive change, and I also think these people are the best, and most experienced for the continued difficult and important work in the progression of climbing.

I also believe the whole of climbing, with all of its genres, should be kept within one organisation that has several sub-sections operating within the same building. This approach saves time and money and confusion, it places a whole host of experience under the same roof making the day to day operation work, and importantly, it provides a whole wealth of different experience close together and this will hopefully result in the correct decisions being made for everyone; young and old, competition and adventure, solid and choss, high and low, all alike, all climbers together.       

I didn’t think I would become involved in what is happening now because, truth be told, I couldn’t be bothered to wade through all of the paperwork and arguments and the like; there is so much of it, but here I am reading and typing away because, over the years, in my capacity as a mountaineer and climber, I have received a great deal of support from the BMC and there comes a time when even the most anarchic knows it's time to call a spade a spade even though I use a shovel.

Nick Bullock is voting for Option A

Option A is the recommended voting option from the BMC National Council (supported by the Organisational Review Group, BMC Board of Directors and BMC staff) and Mountain Training.

Please do vote in our upcoming AGM
We need 75% of the votes to be in favour of one option in order to adopt a new constitution. If you're a BMC member, please check for an email from ERS for your personal URL to vote. It's quick, simple and only takes a minute. If you haven't recieved an email, please fill in the form here: https://intouch.thebmc.co.uk/bmc-agm/


Your AGM: Thanks for your vote!

This year's historic AGM had a record voting turnout, with 6,796 of those votes being made online. We want to thank everyone for having their say and helping to shape the future of the BMC. 

READ THE FULL REPORT: The BMC's historic 2018 AGM

Detailed info on the BMC AGM 2018

Find out more about the last AGM. It's a complicated topic, so start with this one:

READ: It's your BMC, and we need your vote

We were asking our members to vote on some significant changes to the BMC's constitution. Part of the discussion was the relationship between the BMC and Sport England. 

READ: What are Sport England Tier 3 and Tier 1 relationships?

There were two constitutions to vote for: Proposal A (as recommended by National Council) and Proposal B, proposed by a group of members. To learn more about the two proposals, you can read a detailed comparison written by BMC honorary solictor Martin Wragg.

READ: A comparison of alternative constitutions

How did the recommendations get decided? Read more about the process that lead to this stage, including the reports from the Organisational Review and more. 

READ: BMC Organisational Review reports

Watch the Open Forum debate

We held a debate in Manchester on 15 May for both options to be discussed. You can watch the livestream here:


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